Vital Stats

Engine:
2.5L I4
Power:
196 HP / 186 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Auto
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,547 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
16.3 CU-FT
MPG:
25 City / 36 HWY
Base Price:
$22,140
A Meaningful Midsize Mulligan



First dates can be rough. We've all been there – forcing your way through some conversation, trying to find common ground, nibbling your way through a meal you'll no doubt end up paying for yourself. The person across the table may be perfectly nice, and means well, but you just aren't feeling it. The spark isn't there.

Our initial encounter with the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu was like that – an experience we'll look back on with a shrug and a "meh." And we aren't alone. After it launched, the 'Bu was met with lukewarm-at-best reviews, comparison test losses and, most importantly, meager sales. In fact, there was a point where Chevy was actually selling more of its discounted 2012 Malibus than the 2013 models that were piling up at dealer lots.

But rather than leave it alone, Chevy has quickly worked up a host of changes for its ever-important midsize sedan, and will be launching this "there, we fixed it" 2014 Malibu like it's an all-new product. The exterior has been tweaked, the interior refined, the powertrain massaged and the chassis retuned. The list of enhancements is rather significant, and caused us to reconsider the Malibu rather than just remembering that first bad date.

Everyone deserves a second chance, right?
2014 Chevrolet Malibu2014 Chevrolet Malibu2014 Chevrolet Malibu

This new-and-improved formula starts up front with a refreshed fascia that better brings the Malibu in line with the most recent crop of updated Chevys. What was previously an unoffensive but not terribly inspired design has grown into something more sculpted and handsome, simply by adjusting the height and spacing of the grille. The hood now curves and falls over the tipping point of the nose, and the lower grille opening is larger and better defined. Other facial elements like the headlamps and foglamps have remained the same, but even this small nose job is enough to give the Malibu a more confident visage.

What was previously an unoffensive but not terribly inspired design has grown into something more sculpted and handsome.

As for the rest of the car's visuals, they haven't changed. From the profile, the overhangs still appear to be too large, and we just can't completely warm up to the rear design with those squared-off (please stop calling them "Camaro-inspired") taillamps. Still, it's not a bad-looking package, rounded out with carryover 18-inch alloy wheels from last year's 2.5-liter model wrapped in P235/50R18 Goodyear Eagle LS tires. Larger 19-inch wheels are available, and they do a nice job of filling out the wheel wells. But if you choose not to pony up for an uplevel model, you will be punished with puny-looking 17- or even 16-inch wheel designs.

Other 2014 model-year improvements lie behind those wheels, where Chevy has fitted the Malibu with upgraded chassis and suspension components pulled from its larger Impala sedan. Specifically, the 2.5-liter naturally aspirated model that we drove now uses better rebound springs and struts, allowing for more refined damper calibration. The result is an improved, smoother ride quality. Still, while Chevy will happily tell you that these upgrades limit body roll and contribute to "a more precise, controlled feel – especially while cornering," the truth is that, once again, this is one of the least-engaging vehicles in the class. It's not Camry disconnected, but from a driver's perspective, the Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Mazda6 and Nissan Altima all offer more rewarding behind-the-wheel experiences. But for the vast majority of midsize buyers, the Malibu will be a fine choice. Its relaxed dynamics and incredibly quiet interior make for a car that you could easily pack the miles on, offering a comfortable ride and a vice-free experience that we can see a lot of people appreciating.

2014 Chevrolet Malibu2014 Chevrolet Malibu2014 Chevrolet Malibu2014 Chevrolet Malibu

Gone for 2014 is the 2.4-liter mild-hybrid eAssist model, and honestly, it won't be missed. The naturally aspirated 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine with 196 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque now serves as the base model, featuring a stop/start system and a reworked six-speed automatic transmission. Compared to the 2.4, the 2.5 offers gains of 14 hp and 14 lb-ft, while still returning the same fuel economy numbers.

The Malibu has one of the better stop/start systems we've tested.

Well, almost. GM quotes the 2014 Malibu at 25/36 miles per gallon city/highway, while the 2013 model achieved 25/37. That said, engineers we spoke to say that the car will "confidently" hit that 36-mpg mark, and while they could have eked out a 37-mpg rating, the company thought it better to just leave the number at 36. (This sounded a bit weak to us, too, but the logic of having a number that is realistic for customers to hit reliably – the story Chevy told us when pressed – does hold some water.) Beyond that, the removal of the eAssist battery system means there's more trunk space – cargo volume increases from 13.2 cubic feet to 16.3 – even with the addition of a second, smaller battery in the car's rump to help supplement the vehicle's operating systems when stop/start is activated. We're told that GM is still committed to offering eAssist on other models, though, and that a next-generation version of the system is in development for future products.

The new stop/start function is really slick here in the Malibu, and that's a good thing, since it can't be turned off like on some cars. In our day of driving, we never found it to be intrusive or jarring. Many folks are (understandably) having a tough time warming up to this sort of technology, but we don't see it being all that bothersome to Chevy customers. Frankly, it's one of the better stop/start systems we've tested, handily besting what's offered by BMW, for example.

2014 Chevrolet Malibu

Chevy expects 85 to 90 percent of all 2014 Malibu models to be sold with the 2.5-liter engine.

Chevy expects 85 to 90 percent of all 2014 Malibu models to be sold with the 2.5-liter engine, but there's also a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four available on higher-end models. This engine, identified internally by the codename LTG, is essentially the same as what's offered in the Buick Regal and Cadillac ATS, producing 259 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque here in the Malibu. That's no more horsepower than the 2013 Malibu Turbo, but torque output has increased by 35 lb-ft, enabling better low-end power for acceleration and highway passing. Chevy says the 2.0T-equipped Malibu can sprint to 60 miles per hour in 5.9 seconds, which is relatively quick for a car in this class, though fuel economy suffers – the turbo 'Bu will only achieve 21/30 mpg city/highway, compared to the 22/33 rating of the front-wheel-drive Ford Fusion with its 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder or even the 21/34 mpg of the Honda Accord with its 3.5-liter V6.

The 2.5-liter Malibu honestly seems like the right choice to us. The Turbo model is fine and offers decent grunt, but it's still not a great-driving car. Bouts of torque steer makes things occasionally squirrely, and the six-speed automatic transmission, despite its improved shift speed and smoothness, still doesn't feel up to the task of managing all that power. The base engine, on the other hand, is smooth as butter, with a revised Hydra-Matic 6T45 six-speed tranny that works well with the engine and more relaxed dynamics of this midsize sedan. It's not an efficiency-seeking buzzkill, either, eagerly holding gears into the higher rev range and executing downshifts when mandated by the driver's right foot. Speaking of which, throttle response and linearity has been improved for 2014. We found the accelerator decidedly well-tuned in this application. There's no feeling of deadness when you first dive into the throttle, but no jarring rush of thrust right at tip-in, either.

2014 Chevrolet Malibu2014 Chevrolet Malibu2014 Chevrolet Malibu2014 Chevrolet Malibu

The Malibu's electric power-assisted steering has also been reworked for 2014, tuned with a very welcome higher-effort calibration – again, something taken from the Impala. The end result is a rack that, while not as direct or engaging as the Mazda6, Accord or Fusion, is far better than the overboosted vagueness found in the Toyota Camry. Stopping prowess is also better, with improved brake feel compared to last year's model.

It's sort of a hodgepodge of premium and cheap materials, but nothing that stands out as sub-par for the class.

Stepping inside, the Chevy's interior offers a host of improvements over the outgoing model, with redesigned front seats that not only provide better comfort for the driver and passenger but allow for increased knee room in the rear. We sat in the back seat for a bit, and while the added space is noticeable, we'd still like a bit more in the way of toe room so our little piggies don't feel quite so cramped. Headroom is good, though, and the lower, deeper seating position of the rear bench allows for a generally more comfortable experience.

Up front, the center console has been reworked with a shift lever that's positioned closer to the driver, allowing for better cup- and phone-holder placement, as well as a revised armrest/storage cubby setup. Everything else up front is largely the same. The dashboard and door materials generally feel nice and premium-ish, but there are still some rough, hard plastics on the center stack and other not-as-frequently touched areas. It's sort of a hodgepodge of premium and cheap materials, but nothing that stands out as sub-par for the class.

2014 Chevrolet Malibu

On the tech front, Chevy is still offering its MyLink infotainment system with a touchscreen interface that's simple to use, with a simple setup and easy-to-locate functions. New for 2014 is the addition of a voice texting feature and the ability for iPhone users to summon Siri through the voice control system. In our quick demonstration, everything seemed to work relatively well. Users can reply to texts on the go with a number of pre-set messages. You can even create your own responses to choose from, because, you know, "OMG, I'm driving WTF! Gotta go, LOL" might better fit the owner's personality than simply, "I'm in the car, I'll call you later." You know who you are.

The Malibu pulls off the whole Camry formula better than Toyota itself can right now.

The 2014 Malibu is working its way to Chevy dealers as you read this, and the price of entry is $22,140, not including $825 for destination. That's an increase of less than $150 compared to the 2013 model, but represents a decrease of nearly $1,000 versus the outgoing eAssist model – a real win, in our eyes. A fully decked-out Malibu Turbo will run you just under $36,000 on the high end, and a very nicely equipped 2.5L 1LZ model like the one you see here comes in at $33,450. Those numbers are all very competitive, though comparing fully loaded models, you'll be paying more for the Chevy than a comparably equipped Accord or Mazda6.

All in, the 2014 model year enhancements make for a robust, much improved package. We might not pick it over many of its midsize classmates, but as an appliance, the Malibu pulls off the whole Camry formula better than Toyota itself can right now. It might not be the car we'd commit to, but we'd gladly meet it for coffee again sometime.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 202 Comments
      markventure69
      • 1 Year Ago
      I like the update overall but that front-on pic isn\'t a good showing of what looks like a mis-aligned front fascia/hood gap... I think the \'Malibu Key\" here is that its an extremely quiet, comfortable, safe, well built car. Some of the other cars in the segment are bigger, but they are also higher on the \"I\'m just an inflated plastic balloon\" scale (ie. cheap). The biggest problem I think the Malibu has is that the Fusion is terrific and hard to unseat.
      Evan
      • 7 Months Ago
      I happen to own a Butte Red on Brownstone 2014 Malibu 2LTZ and love it! The 2.0t has best-in-class 295FT-LBS (even more than the High Feature 3.6L in the Impala), and it really wants to go fast. I am averaging around 25 City and 34 Highway. The interior is by far the quietest in the segment and one of the more comfortable and intuitive ones as well! I ordered mine with 19' 5-Spoke Polished Rims and a Spoiler which look great (especially with the dual chrome exhaust). The MyLink System with Navigation works for me every time I use it with my LG G-Flex. The Pioneer 9-Speaker Premium Sound System has loads of bass and extremely clear treble. I really like how many storage areas there are! I am glad I ordered the Advanced Safety Package as it has saved me a few times already! The backseat isn't the biggest in the class, but it is still does a great job at holding three adults (if need be). When my Bu' was in the shop being repaired for the defroster recall (which I understand as it is still in its first year of production), I was loaned a Malibu 2LT and was averaging 29 City and 38 Highway. The 2.5i engine has enough pep for day to day use, but not even close to what my 2.0t puts down. The Stop/Start system worked very well and fired right back up right as you lifted your foot off of the brake pedal. Suggested Improvements: -Standard deck-lid spoiler on LT's -Standard wing spoiler on LTZ's -18' Machined Aluminum, 19' Polished, and 20' Chrome Rim selections -Body color grille -More side bolstering on front seats -Rear HVAC vents -Rear audio entertainment system -UltraView moonroof -More rear legroom (take some trunk space) -Addition of iVVL to the 2.0t engine for a 2-3mpg improvement -Increased power output by the 2.5i of 205HP and 195FT-LBS -7 Speed Dual Clutch for an additional 2-3mpg improvement -6 Speed Manual
      Rich M
      • 1 Year Ago
      Rich M Well after reading all the pros and cons about the new Malibu I went out and bought one. I picked up a 2014 LTZ with all the options. I've had it a month now and I've logged 1700 miles and I tell all of you naysayers this is really a great car. The 2.0 turbo puts out just remarkable power and excelleration while getting about 26 mpg around town. Yes when you floor it the front wheel drive does get a little shifty but boy does it move. I have never driven a front wheel drive car with this kind of power, it's truly fun to be in the lane that ends and effortlessly take the lead. The handling is remarkable for front wheel drive, almost no oversteer and solid confidence in every corner. I did get the 19" wheels and tires which I'm sure adds to the great performance. The other thing I like about the Malibu is the quiet interior and relatively smooth ride for a car with this much performance. I've driven a lot of midsized cars and this is best I've found. 
      DarkKnight67
      • 1 Year Ago
      As with so many vehicles, has this car had a Toyota badge slapped somewhere on it, then all the faults and flaws would be given a pass.
        superchan7
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DarkKnight67
        Not really....the Camry does one critical thing better than the Malibu (rear seat room). Everything else is a wash. Camry wins.
        Seal Rchin
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DarkKnight67
        Why do i feel like that excuses, finger pointing and more excuses is the way you live your life.
        Nickoo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DarkKnight67
        Nobody is giving camry/corolla a pass, not sure what automotive press you've been reading. Those cars sell on reputation only.
      dohc73
      • 1 Year Ago
      The fixed the wrong end.
      G Prodigy
      • 1 Year Ago
      i feel sorry for chevy looking at this....this is a tough card to play against the optima and fusion. non of the lines or grilles flow well or make any sense of what was the design influence...
      R.t Voll
      • 1 Year Ago
      I would just spend a few more $ and get the impala if I wanted a Chevrolet family sedan. It is a much better car and it is getting good reviews left and right.
        cadetgray
        • 1 Year Ago
        @R.t Voll
        For some people, the cost difference would be worthwhile, especially if they infrequently carry adults in the back seat. I have to contend with a tight city parking garage everyday, and the smaller dimensions of the Malibu are more appealing to me. In addition, since most of my commute is city driving, I would likely benefit from the start/stop technology. I know I waste a lot of fuel waiting at street lights. The initial cost savings would easily cover my fuel costs for several years of ownership. I agree the Impala is a very nice car, but the Malibu's size and pricing better fit my needs.
      foxtrot685
      • 1 Year Ago
      I actually like the 2014 Malibu. It's a stronger effort from GM than reviews give it. It feels stronger for 2014 and quieter. It also drives better than 2013. A fully loaded Mazda 6 is cheaper because it doesn't have a V6 or high output 4 cylinder like the Malibu. Guarantee the skyactiv diesel will command a premium and push the fully loaded price closer to the Malibu. The only real flaw is it's smaller than normal back seat, but it still isn't terrible.
        CJ_313
        • 1 Year Ago
        @foxtrot685
        It isn't a strong effort at all. Back in 2008, the amount of effort GM put into the Malibu was obvious, and they even managed to make it look pretty good right off the bat (although some weren't huge fans of the rear-end). The new-for-1997 model showed quite a bit of forward thinking for that time as well. This new model looks as if GM simply cobbled it together, similar to how the 2004 redesign appeared, as if GM thought the Malibu would begin to sell on its name alone (like the Camry does for instance, but without its reputation & customer loyalty). The best part of the 2013-2014 is the optional 2.0L Turbo which appears to be nearly class-leading in regards to performance, but even that's a compromise since it doesn't give as equal of a balance between performance and gas mileage as its competitors with their top engine options. I have never owned a foreign vehicle & do not support non-American brands, but I don't apologize for lackluster efforts like this car.
          foxtrot685
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CJ_313
          Tell me how the one you've driven was lackluster?
          foxtrot685
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CJ_313
          I Very much agree that this isnt as giant of a leap forward as the 2008 car. That 2008 model was only a giant leap because of the car it replaced, BTW. Other car makers had been making sedans like the 2008 Malibu for decades by that point. But the 2013-2014 car isn't nearly as bad as articles seem to make it out to be, not by a longshot.
      Zach
      • 1 Year Ago
      Anybody else see the gap where the hood and bumper meet? That drives me crazy.
        Beardinals
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Zach
        Let's hope it's a pre-production flaw. I can't imagine GM would let this go to public.
        Camaroman101
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Zach
        white isn't forgiving when it comes to body gaps
      mjzalucki
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don\'t understand why they didn\'t put the \"new\" cleaner Chevy grille look fron the Impala/Traverse on this car. That split tier grille is even uglier than the 2013 version. While it looks ok in photos, in person, it visually weighs down the whole look of the car. Akerson should have ponied up a few more bucks for some new tailights while they were at it. As striking as the new Impala is, this Malibu design is disjointed and uninspired. This baby needs a total reskin.
        Greg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mjzalucki
        I still think that the 2013 model looks cleaner and better. The new grill looks awkward and isn't an improvement.
      IBx27
      • 1 Year Ago
      They changed the wrong end. The front looked perfectly fine; it's everything behind the headlights. When the Cruze has more interior space all over, better fuel economy, and costs less, what's the point of this car?
        bookemd
        • 1 Year Ago
        @IBx27
        I like the new front much better. The rear does need a rethink.
          IBx27
          • 1 Year Ago
          @bookemd
          You are incorrect; they made the new middle grille look like a hyundai which is much worse.
          CJ_313
          • 1 Year Ago
          @bookemd
          The front now looks more polarizing, some like it, but I find it to look worse. The proportions are a bit odd and it looks very generic from the side (more-so than the 2008-2012 model), and the rear looks very low-rent to me compared to nearly all other midsizers on the market, even with the LED's that come with the LTZ trim.
      vripper
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wanted to root for this car, but it looks boring and outdated the more I look at it. The rounded center console looks cheap and toy-ish looking. Rear seating is tight and those taillights are just horrific. What's the point of a 4 cylinder if it can't beat Honda's V6? In the end, nothing about it stands out.
    • Load More Comments